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Undergraduate Program

Paleontology Opportunities for Undergraduates

The U-M Museum of Paleontology is not an academic unit, but a research museum. Listed below are some of the many opportunities for undergraduates interested in Paleontology.

Paleontology Minor

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers a Minor in Paleontology, designed to acquaint students with insight into the major features of the fossil record, the methods used in historical sciences, and the theoretical issues dealt with by paleontologists. Requirements include a combination of entry and advanced courses, as well as independent work. Details of requirements for the minor can be found here (Paleontology academic minor). Interested students are encouraged to contact the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Advisor for more information. Students wishing to pursue an academic minor in Earth and Environmental Sciences must develop a specific plan for its completion in consultation with a Department faculty advisor.

Senior Honors Theses

Fourth-year students admitted to the Honors Program may conduct independent research with a Museum of Paleontology faculty member, and write a senior Honors Thesis based on the project. Whether through the Honors Program or not, undergraduates may work with Museum of Paleontology personnel on research projects, and they may also present their work at national meetings and publish their research in peer-reviewed journals. Interested students are encouraged to discuss ideas with individual faculty members, or with the Undergraduate Advisor.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

A number of undergraduates have become involved in Museum of Paleontology research and fossil preparation through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). UROP sponsors first and second year undergraduates, either through work-study or for academic credit, allowing them to take part in research activities on campus. Past UROP students at the Museum of Paleontology have been involved in molding and casting of a complete mastodon skeleton, in learning techniques of fossil preparation, and in a project designed to learn more about the origin and diversification of modern mammals.

Vertebrate Preparation Laboratory

The Museum's Vertebrate Preparation Laboratory employs undergraduate students during both the summer and the academic year. Students learn preparation techniques and work on a wide variety of organisms, including collaborations with the Exhibit Museum of Natural History. Interested students should contact the chief preparator, Dr. Bill Sanders by email at